This is perhaps one of the most shocking and disturbing films I’ve seen and the fact that it’s all real is even more terrifying. The film follows Josh Fox who has been offered a vast amount of money by those who wish to drill on his land for natural gas. Concerned about the after effect he goes in search of some details.
What he finds is so utterly disturbing and sad and that being huge amounts of people whose health and welfare have been effected by natural gas drilling in their back yard. The industry is enormous and the amount of gas sites are in the hundreds of thousands some are even on ‘public land’. People across much of the central USA have them in their back yards, tanks, drills, containers and various other pieces of industry, small to some comparison but still a blot on the landscape. But aesthetics are far from the worse of concerns.
The drilling for gas creates water contamination with a huge cocktail of chemicals seeping into drinking wells, streams and lakes. What was for years safe, whole areas are so full of chemical concoctions that in some instances if you hold a lit flame to a water source it erupts into flames. People have become sick due to the high quantities of dangerous and hazardous chemicals, pets and farm animals lose their hair and yet the companies involved do tests and say the water is safe to drink.
Watching these people is distressing, living on the land, with generations of history they are now powerless to do anything as the companies refuse to acknowledge the issue. They would also unlikely to sell up as no-one would buy a property with a great big well in the back yard, let alone if they knew the issues that come with it. That the US government, thanks to Dick Cheney, signed a law that made the companies exempt from the Clean Water Bill among others is shocking, had it been otherwise, this may not be happening.
There is some powerful stuff in this: the list of trucks it takes to actually make a natural gas well or the list of long complex chemical compounds used and found. There is the third generations farmer who is at a loss of what to do seeing the land around him change in the worse way possible. It is relentless, with person after person speaking about the effects, illness’s, chemical clouds, explosions in the middles of the night and more that they now suffer. Independent tests show that water samples are so full of chemicals or that air samples are so dangerously over the recommended levels it’s hard to imagine the ongoing consequences.
The film does at last show a glimmer of hope that being a small selection of activists and politicians making a stand and trying to stop what has happened in many parts of the US happening in those untouched. Near the end we see a congressional hearing in which some of the big companies spokespeople are brought down in a few simple questions, their denial that there is a risk, blatant lies which are not received well.
Screening at the Gateway Film Center at 7 pm on March 28. Admission is $5 and will benefit the Central Ohio Sierra Club and the CIFVF.